Durham County

Durham County’s social services director to leave for state agency

Michael Becketts, director of Durham County’s Department of Social Services, has accepted a position with a state agency.
Michael Becketts, director of Durham County’s Department of Social Services, has accepted a position with a state agency. contributed

Durham County’s Department of Social Services director is moving on to a state agency, the county announced Thursday.

Michael A. Becketts was appointed as assistant secretary for Human Services at the North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services.

The appointment was made by Mandy Cohen, secretary of Health and Human Services.

In his new capacity, Becketts will have direct oversight of the Division of Social Services and the Division of Aging and Adult Services and support the deputy director of Human Services with other aspects of human services.

“I look forward to helping shape and mold the provision of social services across the state of North Carolina,” Becketts said. “ I am confident that Durham’s Department of Social Services is on the right path, and will continue to operate effectively.”

Becketts joined Durham County government in August, 2012.

“Michael has been a tremendously effective leader for DSS for nearly five years and will be missed,” said Tara Fikes, Durham County DSS chairwoman on behalf of the board. “Specifically, his in-depth knowledge of human service delivery systems and his unique ability to engage the community-at-large in addressing local needs, have enabled the department to be strategically responsive to the Durham community.”

During his time with DSS, Becketts has worked with community stakeholders in addressing the closing of a low-income housing community, helped with local implementation of the state’s NCFAST system that processes public assistance benefits and worked with the County’s IS&T department to develop the state’s first mobile application that allows for Durham County residents to submit documentation for benefits using mobile devices.

Becketts also instituted training for the entire agency to improve its customer relations and became the primary investigator on a $750,000 grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services to create the Durham Integrated Domestic Violence Program.

Becketts’ last day with Durham County DSS will be April 21.

The Durham County Board of Social Services has appointed Catherine Williamson-Hardy as the agency’s interim director -- effective following Beckett’s last day.

Hardy brings 27 years of experience in the field of human services.

She started her career as a temporary employee with DSS, and continued to move upward over the years.

Most recently, she is serving as the agency’s assistant director for Customer Accountability Talent and Development division (CATD).

“Catherine’s leadership during this transition will allow the agency to continue work while ensuring effective staff development, maintaining and building significant partnerships, and ensuring that quality services are provided to Durham residents,” Becketts said.